Match preview ahead of Wednesday night's game.
Martin O’Neill is looking for his side to move through the gears as they travel to Derby County tonight.
The Black Cats have won one pre-season game so far – 3-2 against FC Groningen in Korea last month – and slipped to defeat against Helsingborgs last time out.
The Swedish champions ran out 2-0 winners last weekend and O’Neill will be hoping his side can post a victory with the new season on the horizon.
They may have to do so without the services of star Stephane Sessegnon, who picked up an ankle injury in training on Monday.
Meanwhile Phil Bardsley has also suffered a setback, but Ahmed Elmohamady should be available after missing the trip to Scandinavia.
The Sunderland manager is expected to hand more time to players who have recently returned from international duty, including Seb Larsson, John O’Shea and James McClean.
All three figured against Helsingborgs and came through the game with no ill effects.
Tonight’s game will pit Martin O’Neill against Nigel Clough, the son of legendary former Nottingham Forest boss Brian.
O’Neill played for Clough Snr during his time as a player at the City Ground, winning the European Cup under his tutelage.
Nigel, of course, is also a huge figure for the Midlands club having scored 131 goals in a Forest shirt.
The younger Clough joined Derby in 2009 and has made steady progress since, with the club finishing 12th in the Npower Championship last season, 11 points outside the play-offs.
The Rams have made four summer signings so far, including Doncaster’s James O’Connor and and Richard Keogh of Coventry.
Live audio commentary will be available on SAFC TV from 7.40pm.